Breast Cancer Awareness

Think Pink

October

During the month of October, the physicians and staff of General Surgical Associates are proud to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  We are dedicated to educating our patients about the importance of early detection and hope that you find the information below helpful if you are researching breast surgery for your yourself or a loved one.

Breast cancer is a major and serious disease that unfortunately affects a large number of women each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women and affects one in every eight women in the United States.  If a diagnosis of breast cancer is suspected or has been made, one of our board certified physicians can recommend which type of surgery is best for your individual case and discuss all options with you.

If you or a loved one has experience or is experiencing any of the following, please make an appointment with us today.

  • Breast lumps (self-discovered or referred)
  • Breast Pain
  • Nipple discharge
  • Abnormal outside mammogram
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Risk reduction consultation for women at high risk of breast cancer
  • Ongoing surveillance of women at very high risk of cancer

Hereditary Testing

At General Surgical Associates, we work closely with Myriad Genetics to assess your risk and provide further recommendations. Please visit www.myriad.com for more information.

BRACAnalysis ®: Hereditary Cancer Testing for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer

BRACAnalysis ® is a genetic test that detects the presence of a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation. BRCA mutations are responsible for the majority of hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. People with a mutation in either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene have risks of up to 87 percent for developing breast cancer and 39-63 percent for developing ovarian cancer by age 70. Mutation carriers previously diagnosed with cancer also have a significantly increased risk of developing a second primary cancer. In fact, patients with these types of mutations have an up to 64 percent chance of developing a second breast cancer by age 70.

BRACAnalysis requires only a simple blood test or oral rinse sample to determine if a person has a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. Knowing the results may help patients and their healthcare professionals either prevent or delay the onset of cancer or detect it at an earlier, more treatable stage.

Myriad has developed a Hereditary Cancer Quiz that patients and can use to help identify potential candidates for genetic testing using BRACAnalysis.

Sentinal Lymph Node Biopsy

In breast cancer, a sentinel node biopsy pinpoints the first few lymph nodes into which a tumor drains (called the “sentinel” node). This helps doctors remove only those nodes of the lymphatic system most likely to contain cancer cells. The sentinel nodes are the first place that cancer is likely to spread.

Mastectomy

A mastectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the breast in patients with breast cancer. This is one of the most commonly used and most effective treatment options for breast cancer, as it can effectively remove all traces of cancer and helps reduce a patient’s risk of recurrence.

Types of Mastectomy

There are several different mastectomy procedures designed to effectively treat breast cancer.  Some of the most commonly used techniques include:
  • Subcutaneous mastectomy – removes the entire breast but leaves the nipple and areola
  • Total mastectomy – removes breast tissue, nipple and areola
  • Modified radical mastectomy – removes entire breast and axillary lymph nodes
  • Preventive mastectomy – total mastectomy for patients with a high genetic risk of breast cancer
The best procedure for you depends on your individual condition, including the stage and severity of your cancer, your overall health and age, and whether or not lymph nodes are involved.

Lumpectomy

Also known as breast-conserving or breast-sparing surgery, lumpectomy is a surgical procedure that removes cancerous or otherwise abnormal breast tissue. While it is usually performed to confirm the presence of breast cancer, lumpectomy can actually treat breast cancer if caught at an early stage. While mastectomy removes the entire breast, lumpectomy only removes a portion of the breast.

What to expect before and after surgery

A few days before your mastectomy or lumpectomy, you will meet with your surgeon, who will address any questions or concerns you may have about the procedure. Let your surgeon know if you are taking any medications, as you may be advised to stop them before your surgery. About twelve hours before the procedure, you will stop eating and drinking.

On the day of your procedure, you will arrive to the hospital, where nurses will help you check in and change into a hospital gown. You will meet with both your surgeon and your anesthesiologist to address any last-minute questions. Then, you will be taken into the operating room, where anesthesia is administered and the surgery is performed.  After surgery, you will be taken to a recovery room, where you will be monitored by a nurse.  You will be prescribed pain medication, for your comfort after surgery. Your surgeon will provide specific post-operative instructions regarding activity as well as your bandages. A follow-up with your surgeon is usually scheduled for two weeks after surgery, to ensure that your recovery is going smoothly.

Recovery and Reconstruction

If you are having a mastectomyA mastectomy usually requires a one to three day hospital stay, depending on the extent of the procedure.  A drain may be placed to collect fluid, and will be removed by your doctor at a later date.  After a mastectomy, many women choose to undergo breast reconstruction in order to restore the appearance of the breast.  Reconstruction can be performed at the same time as the mastectomy procedure or at a later time, and may involve a breast implant or tissue transfer flap to reconstruct the area.

If you are having a lumpectomy The lumpectomy procedure typically lasts about two hours, and is performed under general or local anesthesia, depending on the circumstances. During the procedure, an incision is made around the tumor, which is then removed and sent to a lab for testing. Your surgeon will then carefully close the incision, being sure to preserve the natural appearance of your breast. Finally, a bandage is placed over the site of the incision.  Most patients return home the same day or may require an overnight stay at the hospital if the lumpectomy was combined with an axillary node biopsy.  If you are going home the same day, you will need to bring a friend or relative along to listen to postoperative instructions and drive you home.

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